Nanoparticles for Exosome and Cell Tracking Along with Therapy
Exosomes have enormous potential for therapeutic applications, due to their unique ability to serve as natural drug vehicles. Developing and optimizing exosome-based therapy for clinical use requires imaging and tracking of therapeutic exosomes in vivo, to elucidate important parameters such as biodistribution, pharmacokinetics, cellular uptake, and underlying biological mechanisms. We use nanoparticles as a unique exosome labeling strategy, for enhanced drug delivery and for real-time exosome tracking with non-invasive imaging modalities in different disease models. This approach can advance clinical development of this emerging class of therapeutics. Moreover, cell therapy is another promising approach for diseases and injuries that conventional therapies cannot effectively cure. However, its application in routine clinical practice is challenging, as clinical trials have shown highly contradictory results. To implement cell therapy, the mystery regarding the fate of the transplanted cells must be uncovered. Our novel method combining nanoparticles as labeling agents and the visualization abilities of classical X-ray computed tomography (CT) and MRI, enable longitudinal and quantitative in vivo tracking of therapeutic stem cells and T cells, while maintaining cell functionality. Our trimodal nanoparticle enables non-invasive monitoritng of stem cells for regenerative therapy, using CT, MRI, and SPECT imaging modalities. This project is conducted through our European Union's Horizon 2020 nTRACK project, led by Prof. Popovtzer. For exosome and cell quantification, we developed a non-invasive quantitative CT ruler, to determine the number of exosomes or cells residing in a specific region, without tissue destruction or animal sacrifice.